My enthusiasm for Citroëns – but for the D Series in particular – is almost
as old as I am. When my dad was looking for a new car in the autumn of
1972, his final choices were a dark blue D Special or a Plymouth Fury.
Eleven years old, I lobbied as furiously as I could for the D Special. In
terms of character and luxury, the choice was a “no brainer” for me. And
in the end – much to my delight – Dad bought the D Special.
I will never forget that car. It was the epitomy of motoring elegance to
me. Previous family vehicles had included a ’61 Chev Belair, a ’64 Pontiac
Laurentian and a ’66 VW Bug. The D Special was everything that those other
cars weren’t: a head turner, sleek and stylish. And it was quirky: the
hydraulics that lifted the car, back-end first like a camel, when you
turned the engine on. The rear-view mirror mounted low, just above the
dashboard. The shift on the steering column. And so on.
Passing another D Series on the road (an infrequent event, to say the
least) always meant an exchange of horn beeps, wherever we were. There was
an unspoken kinship between D Series owners.
But rust-proofing wasn’t as advanced in the 1970’s as it is now. The D
Special was used every day and rested overnight on the driveway while my
mom’s 1974 Fiat 128 was snug in our one-car garage. By the time I got my
driver’s licence, rust had set in and the poor car was near the end of its
What a car to learn to drive in! Heading south on Yonge Street from Aurora
in the D Special with my new drivers licence still ranks among my favourite
motoring experiences. I borrowed the keys from Dad whenever I could. I
couldn’t have cared less that the car was falling apart. And I cried when
the junk man towed it away. It was only eight years old. The engine
had ridiculously low mileage on it, but the hydraulics were starting to
fail and the body had rotted badly.
That car gave a ride like no other land vehicle that I have ever sat in.
Dad bought the car from Yonge-Steeles Motors, just outside Toronto, but he
took a test drive at Grand Touring downtown and the salesman there insisted
that we drive through as many potholes as we could find. Dad obliged, but
we could hardly tell that the potholes were there. Even the seats
themselves were amazingly comfortable.
I have since owned several cars, including a 954 cc AX while living
overseas. I am convinced that I will never, ever drive a car as
comfortable and distinctive looking as that D Special. If I could own
another one without having to worry about parts and service – and if I was
mechanically adept – I’d buy one in an instant.
Story contributed by
Harvey Sahker, Toronto